NASHVILLE, Tenn., December 13, 2011 - The Country Music Association has pledged $10 million to Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, the capital campaign that will finance the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum's expansion from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet. The donation is the largest philanthropic gift in the not-for-profit educational organization's history.
In 1961, the CMA Board of Directors approved the establishment of the Country Music Hall of Fame honor to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format. In 1964, the CMA organized the not-for-profit Country Music Foundation (CMF) for the purpose of "establishing a museum and archives for the preservation and exhibition of historical and cultural materials and exhibits within the field of country music and to make the same available to students, researchers and the general public."
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1967. Since then, CMA has contributed nearly $5 million to the Museum, including a $1 million endowment to their flagship school program Words & Music, and underwriting for the Museum's annual Medallion Ceremony, which has served as the official rite of induction for CMA's new Hall of Fame members since 2007. CMA is proud to be one of the Museum's most generous and consistent benefactors.
"CMA and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are connected by history and our shared interest in preserving the legacy, rewarding excellence, and advancing the future of the format," said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "This donation is the latest example of CMA's longstanding commitment to the Hall of Fame. We are proud to support the growth of the Hall and we look forward to using the CMA Theater in a variety of ways that will shine a spotlight on the Country Music industry and format."
The Museum's expansion will include the 800-seat state-of-the-art CMA Theater, which is designed to be flexible and adaptable for a broad range of activities from concerts and films to lectures and corporate meetings.
"Beyond the impressive amount of this gift, it represents a major milestone in the life and history of the place known around the world as 'Music City,'" said Museum Board Member John Seigenthaler, founder, First Amendment Center. "It reflects back on this community's cultural history and the contributions of the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as we envision a future enriched by our legacy as a center of music, entertainment and tourism."
"We are indebted to the CMA for a gift that serves our educational mission, benefits Music City, and serves a worldwide audience," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "In Nashville, the CMA Theater's seating capacity is unique and will fill a gap in available performance halls. It is sure to become a coveted venue for touring artists in many genres of music and it will be recognized as one of Music City's cultural crown jewels.
"In addition to expanding the size and number of our own educational programs, the CMA Theater will give us the additional opportunity to partner with other cultural organizations such as the Schermerhorn Symphony
Center, the Belcourt Theater and Nashville's downtown library," Young said.
"We anticipate that the theater will be a critical asset to both the Music City Center and the Omni Hotel, whose clients will need convenient access to a theater like this for speakers, programs, performances and other events throughout the year," Young said. "These activities could easily keep the theater booked 250 days a year."
The CMA Theater's sound and lighting is by Fisher Dachs, renowned internationally for their work with technically superior and highly functional theaters, opera houses, concert halls, and arts education facilities. Their work includes intimate settings such as repertory theaters like Shakespeare's Globe, the Guthrie and Arena Stage; major venues such as Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl; as well as symphony halls including the Schermerhorn.
The television-ready CMA Theater will feature a 500-seat main floor and two balconies of 150 seats each, ensuring that sight lines are unimpeded for audiences of 500, 650 or 800-seat events. The theater's back-of-house will include a green room, band room and four dressing rooms. Exterior signage on Fifth Avenue South will make the theater visible and accessible to patrons of the 1.2 million-square-foot Music City Center. The lobby entrance will also connect with the 800-room Omni Hotel.
With Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford as honorary co-chairs, the Museum launched its $75 million Working on a Building campaign in late July with $56.8 million in cash and pledges already secured. Designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects, the expansion is expected to be completed in early 2014.
The Country Music Association: More than 6,400 music industry professionals and companies around the globe are members of CMA. Formed in 1958 as the first trade association for a single genre of music, the organization's objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry while advancing the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA's strategic imperatives - CMA Music Festival and the companion CMA Music Festival television special, the CMA Awards, and CMA's latest television venture "CMA Country Christmas." All of CMA's TV properties air on the ABC Television Network through 2021. For information about CMA visit www.CMAworld.com.
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum: Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum's mission is the preservation of the history country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®. More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.